Dragsters fly down track to win Wallys

Dragsters can’t help but turn heads.

Not only can they can reach speeds of nearly 200 miles per hour, but their cars just look cool.

At Saturday’s National Dragster Challenge at the Western Colorado Dragway, dragsters ranging from a Dodge Rampage to Chevy Novas to funny cars filled the pits.

The racers were all chasing after a Wally, the most sought-after trophy given out by the National Hot Rod Association.

“The car is running good, and we are running after the Wally,” Grand Junction racer Mark Sievers said.

Sievers won the Wally two years ago in the Commercial Tire Super Pro class, and had his funny car chassis with a 1938 Fiat Topolino body at the track Saturday.

Sievers has been driving his car “Witch Doctor” for nine years, and now has the car running in the mid-seven seconds.

“The (funny cars) are easier to work on,” Sievers said. “Plus it’s nicer with the open air cockpit, and not having a roof over your head.”

Sievers has been drag racing for 35 years, and said the dream of racing a funny car with a Fiat body was 20 years in the making. Sievers’ Fiat can reach speeds of 180 mph, and the 53-year-old driver said there’s no way to describe the rush he gets from racing a car with that kind of power.

“It pins you back in the seat,” Sievers said. “The front wheels come up and you can see them turning when you take off. At that point, you know you’re going to be in for a pretty good ride.”

Kurt Averill is another Grand Junction racer who said he compares driving a dragster to that of riding a roller coaster.

“The first time you ride it, it scares you,” Averill said. “But after three of four rounds on it, you get used to it.”

Averill also raced in the Super Pro series in his 1970 Mustang Fastback with a 598 cubic-inch engine. Averill bought the car eight years ago from a man in Ohio, and has improved from the low 10s to the high 8s on the quarter-mile track.

“The cars get faster every year,” Averill said. “So I built a little bigger motor, which is what you have to do if you want to compete.”

Averill, 49, was also going after a Wally, but said he considers it a good day if the car stays intact.

“It’s a successful day when you go out and don’t break anything,” Averill said. “But if you can make a few rounds, and have some good fortune, you never know what can happen.”

Ken Covington’s 1973 Datsun won the Super Pro class in 9.45 seconds, Mike McCallum took home the Batteries Plus Pro ET Class finishing in 10.43 in his 1963 Dodge and

Frank Horn won the Cartunes Sportsman class in 12.60 in his 1968 Camaro.


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